El Clásico II: A deafening anthem, replica shirts & an invisible No.9

“So, do you think the referee tonight was biased?”


“Do you think the referee tonight was biased?”



That’s the way hundreds of post-game conversations will go after Wednesday’s Copa del Rey final, as it looks like some 40,000 supporters of Barcelona and Real Madrid are going to be stumbling out of the Mestalla with ears ringing as if they had spent the evening squatting inside an amplifier at a Metallica concert.

To prevent a repeat of the 2009 Copa Del Rey final between Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao - a royalist’s worst nightmare which saw the national anthem booed to high heaven by all and sundry in the stadium - Marca is reporting that the Mestalla PA system is set to be cranked up to 120 decibels to drown out any such republican rumblings from the Catalan contingent. However, the paper is warning that “after 55 decibels experts consider levels to be disturbing for human hearing.”

The deafening volumes are set to be especially irksome for sensitive Culés and Madridistas given the noise levels at their respective home grounds rarely get above the level of rustling sweet packets, the unwrapping of a ham and cheese sandwich or moans that their team isn’t winning by a big enough margin.

"What do you mean you didn't bring your Real Madrid replica shirt...?"

Both Madridista papers are hoping their side of the stadium will be full to the brim with cheery supporters dressed in white. AS report on a request from the Madrid players that fans wear the club’s shirt on Wednesday, but more importantly to pop down to the club shop and buy one if they don’t already have the garment hanging in their wardrobe. Meanwhile Marca tell of a campaign from Madrid fan groups to get those heading to the Mestalla to bring Spanish flags with them too.

“It’s an opportunity to show constitutional Spain’s best face, where there’s a common anthem and flag but alongside different anthems and flags that represent different identities,” says Tuesday’s editorial in an insanely hopeful appeal for a nationalist spirit of unity in the cup final. 

The Barcelona press are still in their holier than thou, Snooty McSnooty Pants special place after Saturday’s supposed moral victory over Real Madrid. Faced with the very real prospect of being ground down to a textbook Mourinho-esque 1-0 defeat on Wednesday, the local papers are resorting to taunting their rivals for their spoiling approach to the past league encounter.

“A divided Madrid!” yells Mundo Deportivo’s front page on Tuesday, noting the surprisingly damning rant from Alfredo di Stefano in Monday’s edition of Marca in which he dismissed Madrid as “a team without personality” and praised Barça’s football for being best “watched with the soul not with the eyes.”

“Mourinho is a manager for titles, not football,” writes the ever-pompous Johan Cruyff in El Periódico. “He’s not a coach for how we understand the sport as a spectacle or diversion.”

In between all the endless maps, graphics, shots of team hotels and reports on the length of the grass of the Mestalla pitch, there is room somewhere for speculation on the line-ups for Wednesday’s Clásico II. Marca suggest that Mesut Özil will be playing as an “invisible number nine” alongside Angel di María and Cristiano Ronaldo. LLL is wondering if it is an invisible number nine in the same role that Karim Benzema played for much of the season. If so, that might not work.

In the Catalan camp, Sport are speculating that Guardiola has yet to decide between Seydou Keita and Pedro, but that José Manuel Pinto and his gangsta braids are set to start in goal as the club’s official Copa Del Rey keeper, this season.

LLL hopes Pinto remembers to put ear plugs into his kitbag along with gloves and a hairnet as it legs set to be a noisy night in Mestalla on Wednesday night.